Brooklyn Nets forward Gerald Wallace, left, spars with official Derrick… (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated…)
The Brooklyn Nets retooled over the summer, retaining Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Kris Humphries and Gerald Wallace while adding Joe Johnson, CJ Watson and Andray Blatche.
So far the Nets have been one of the best teams in the league with a 6-2 record, second in the East to their rival New York Knicks.
The Lakers finish off a six-game home-stand on Tuesday night. Four victories in five tries have finally brought the team to .500. A win over the Nets would give the Lakers their first winning record of the season.
Coach Mike D'Antoni is expected to make his debut with the Lakers, although Steve Nash (leg) and Steve Blake (abdominal strain) may be out again.
Joe Johnson is paid like a superstar, and although that's a bit of a reach, he's still one of the best in the league at his position. He'll be asked to defend Kobe Bryant, which should be an interesting matchup if he can slow Bryant (even a little). Kobe is having his best season yet, from an efficiency perspective.
The Nets can also put Gerald Wallace on Bryant, a second strong perimeter defender.
The Nets need someone to defend Dwight Howard. Lopez is one of the better offensive centers in the league but he's not nearly as capable on the other side of the ball.
It may fall on Kris Humphries to slow Howard. Humphries is a prolific rebounder but he still needs to prove he can defend the post at a high level. If he can provide that for the Nets this season, the team may have one of the most well-balanced starting units in the league.
The X-factor for the Lakers may once again be Darius Morris, the second-year point guard who may be starting against Williams, who is almost always a problem against the Lakers.
The Lakers haven't beaten any "elite" teams yet this season. This is the ideal game to get before a difficult road trip.
The Nets will prove a difficult challenge, but the Lakers finally climb above .500 with a victory.
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